Tuesday,19 June, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1397, (7 - 20 June 2018)
Tuesday,19 June, 2018
Issue 1397, (7 - 20 June 2018)

Ahram Weekly

A World Cup with changes

New technological changes
New technological changes
Al-Ahram Weekly

FOOTBALL lovers all over the world will enjoy watching the new changes applied to this year’s edition of the World Cup.

Those new technological changes promise to make the ‘beautiful game’ more exciting, thrilling and exhilarating. In Russia 2018, the football family will be introduced to a fourth additional substitute change, the use of small handheld technologies and video assistant referees which FIFA believes that while it allows “minimum interference, it brings maximum benefit”.

Those changes were approved by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in March. The use of the additional fourth substitute in extra time will be applied at the upcoming World Cup tournament after being trialed over the past two years. The use of electronic and communication equipment in the technical area (small handheld mobile devices), strictly for tactical/coaching purposes and player safety was also voted through in the same session last March.

There will also be revised wordings on “denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity (DOGSO)” and “stopping a promising attack (SPA)” relating to the law change that ended the triple punishment for a red card inside the box.

Following approval by the IFAB for the use of small handheld technologies on the bench, FIFA is set to offer all the teams at the 2018 FIFA World Cup a technical setup for match analysts and coaching team to interact.

Each team will be offered two devices: one for the team analyst observing the match from the media tribune, another for the coaching team at the bench.

Two optical tracking cameras located on the media tribune track the positional data of players and ball. Processed data as well as live footage is transmitted to the analyst workstation at the media tribune. The analyst analyses the player metrics, reviews situations of the match and can highlight areas for consideration with the help of an analyst application. The analyst can send a still image with his drawings down to the technical area and can talk to the assistant coach via radio communication. The assistant coach can also talk to the analyst and send messages back via a chat tool.

At the half time break, analysis of marked situations can be undertaken in the changing room. A post-match analysis is also provided to teams on FIFA’s platform.

FIFA’s rule-making panel had also approved the addition of video review to the laws of the game following a trial period, clearing the way for its use at the World Cup this summer. For this change, the IFAB panel voted unanimously to begin updating the sport’s written rules to include Video Assistant Referees (VAR).

VAR, which can overturn a “clear and obvious error” involving goals, penalty awards, red cards and mistaken identity, has been used throughout the league season in many countries on a trial basis, including the Bundesliga, Serie A, Portugal’s Primeira Liga, MLS and the A-League. It has also just been introduced in Brazil and La Liga will use it next season.

“As of today, video assistant referees are part of football and this is certainly very important news,’’ said FIFA President Gianni Infantino who chaired the meeting in March. “Together with our colleagues we have taken some very important decisions. We had, as you can imagine, a very intense morning, fully aware of our responsibility to take an important decision for football.

“This topic was discussed and debated for decades. VAR is good for football, is good for refereeing, it brings more fairness in the game and, for these reasons, we have decided to approve VAR.’’

An IFAB statement described those changes as a new era for football with video assistance for referees helping to increase integrity and fairness in the game. FIFA has already used the technology at the Club World Cup in December last year.

“Of course it will have an impact on the World Cup and on the matches, and it will have a positive impact on the matches. This is what the studies show,’’ Infantino had said.

“From the 1,000 matches, approximately, that were part of the experiment, the level of accuracy of the decisions taken by the referees increased to 99 per cent. It’s almost perfect. Perfection in our world does not exist, but VAR certainly gets us closer.

“I was extremely skeptical personally on VAR, but we tested it, and I personally came quite a long way. I can guarantee our referees which will be at the World Cup will be ready. They have trained for the last two years.’’

Infantino added: “We can see in the matches, where the game is being interrupted, this creates even an additional moment of tension where everyone is waiting.

“But at the end of the day, what is more important for us is that we can help the referee to take the right decision. We bring more fairness in the game with this. One clear mistake that the referee does every three games... we can limit this to once every 19 games. That must be the main objective.’’

The football associations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had one vote each, while FIFA, representing all other national federations, had four, with six required for a change in the laws.

A VAR Implementation Assistance and Approval Programme (IAAP), overseen by IFAB and FIFA, aims to bring consistency and quality throughout its use.

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